DOI: 10.3390/rel14121493 ISSN: 2077-1444

Stone Inscriptions as Mirror Images: Historical Details of Tang Dynasty Buddhism in the Luoyang Region

Ting Song, Yuanlin Wang
  • Religious studies

For a long time, scholarly research on Buddhism in Luoyang during the Tang Dynasty has mainly focused on eminent monks and Buddhist temples. This focus is evident in the recorded literature of ancient times, such as The Continued Biographies of Eminent Monks and The Biographies of Eminent Monks. Based on stone inscriptions, this paper examines the dissemination and development of Buddhism in the Eastern Capital of Luoyang during the Tang Dynasty. This article presents the following viewpoints and findings: Firstly, the epitaphs and pagoda inscriptions provide historical details that are not widely known, such as the names of temples in the suburb, the identities of prominent monks who propagated Dharma in Luoyang, the Buddhist scriptures chanted and learned by the Luoyang people, and the people’s motivation to adopt Buddhism. Secondly, the epitaphs and pagoda inscriptions supplement important historical materials on Chan Buddhism, confirming the widespread popularity of the Northern Sect of Chan Buddhism in the Luoyang region. Thirdly, the epitaphs and pagoda inscriptions reveal that Luoyang Buddhist practice was popular, characterized by the succession of blood-related monastic companions; that is, many families had two or more relatives who became monks or nuns simultaneously or successively, a phenomenon that has not attracted attention from academic circles. Fourthly, the blood-related monastic companions of Buddhist practice affected the mentoring relationships and organizational management of temples and monasteries, promoting communication and interaction between Buddhism and traditional Chinese culture.